- Mar 10, 2006
I have received this message concerning the controversial Silverdale Farm Case.
The following is the statement by Mr. Reginald Mengi's Attorney Mr. Mike Ngallo of Ngallo & Company Advocates of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania concerning the accusations against Mr. Reginald Mengi that have been made, implied and propagated by a British investor couple Mr. Stewart Middleton and Sarah Hermitage through various online media outlets concerning the Silverdale and Mbono Farms in Moshi Tanzania, East Africa.
Mr. Reginald Mengi is the Founder and Executive Chairman of IPP Group of Companies. Some of the companies under this group include: IPP Media – several daily and weekly Newspapers (The Guardian and Nipashe to mention a few), TV Stations, Radio Stations, Bottling Companies as well as Consulting firms and manufacturing plants. He was voted twice as the second most admired CEO in East Africa in 2001 and 2002.
The Background of the case
On May 21st, 2004 a Tanzanian company called Silverdale Farm (T) Limited entered into an agreement whereby it was assigned a lease 533 acres farm situated at Hai, Kilimanjaro Region in the north western part of Tanzania by a Tanzanian company called Fiona (T) Limited. According to the Deed of Assignment drawn by Advocate P.M Jonathan the registered shareholders and directors of Silverdale (T) Limited were Stewart Middleton and Benjamin Mengi while that of Fiona (T) Ltd were Benjamin Mengi and his late wife Millie Mengi.
One year after the Assignment Agreement a contractual dispute arose after Mr. Middleton failed to meet the financial obligations as per lease agreement. On November 19th, 2004 Mr. Benjamin Mengi wrote to Mr. Stewart Middleton extending a grace period for him to come up with the remainder of money owed. In this letter Mr. Benjamin Mengi made it very clear that it was the final extension of the grace period, he wrote "if not honored before 31/12/2004, the deed of assignment will be null and void".
Instead of honoring his financial obligation Mr. Stewart conducted what he called "An Extraordinary General Meeting" on August 30th, 2004 at the office of Shayo, Jonathan, and Co., Advocates. The main resolution of this meeting as written in the minutes of that same meeting was "that Mr. B. A. Mengi be removed as Director of Silverdale Farm". But, in another letter dated October 21st, 2004 Mr. Middleton reversed his decision and says "in the interests of running of the company this decision is hereby reversed. I hope that business can continue as normal from now on". But, he went ahead and submitted the changes which he has already reversed.
Mr. Middleton made changes on the structure of the shareholding on January 28th, 2005 in a meeting held at the farm where he once again was the sole member. These changes were however rejected by the Assistant Registrar of Companies, one E. Kakwezi in a later dated May 6th, 2006. In the later Mr. Kakwezi wrote that "the changes submitted for registration but a still pending (have not been registered) because the original file of this company is missing and also there are some irregularities in these changes". So up to May 2006, Mr. Benjamin Mengi was still a recognized director of Silverdale Farm.
Seeing that Mr. Middleton was unilaterally acting to make drastic change to the company Mr. Benjamin Mengi decided to take matters to the courts. After a number of cases had been filed the dispute reached the High Court in Moshi, Kilimanjaro in a Civil Case No 1, 2006. The then Justice of the High Court Fakih Jundu (Now the Principle Justice of Tanzania) ordered mediation in his ruling rendered on September 6, 2007. Justice Jundu ordered that "I hereby direct all the parties to negotiate for a settlement out of this court for this suit and other cases between them pending in the subordinate courts". Although Mr. Middleton's lawyer responded in the affirmative (in a letter to Mr. Benjamin Mengi's lawyer dated 30th October, 2007) that his client was willing to participate in the settlement talk, at the end he did not keep his word.
Instead Mr. Middleton and his wife initiated a smear campaign which comprised enlisting the support of Governmental, Non Governmental, Diplomatic offices and the media to tarnish the image of Mr. Reginald Mengi. This strategy proved to be futile for the issue has already been dealt with by courts with proper jurisdiction and no entity was willing to interfere with the courts ruling.
Reginald Mengi volunteers to mediate the dispute
In December 2005, the Silverdale Farm issue came up during a conversation between Reginald Mengi and the then British High Commissioner to Tanzania, His Excellency Andrew Pocock. After a very productive meeting it was agreed that Reginald Mengi would volunteer mediation between his brother and Middleton. On the 13th December 2005 Stewart Middleton and His Excellency Andrew Pocock held a meeting at the residence of Reginald Mengi in Dar es Salaam as part of this negotiation. This course was also taken because Mr. Benjamin Mengi had also requested the High Commissioner in his letter of February 18th, 2006. In this letter Mr. Benjamin Mengi was willing to participate in the talk to find a solution to the dispute.
After an elaborate discourse by Mr. Middleton on his understanding and concerns about the Silverdale Farm Mr. Reginald t agreed to approach his brother Benjamin Mengi as a first step towards arriving at an amicable resolution. Mr. Reginald Mengi was fulfilling his promise of doing everything within his power to try to bring the two sides together to resolve the Silverdale Farm case.
What transpired in this meeting is summarized in a letter written to Reginald Mengi and copied to Stewart Middleton by his Excellency Andrew Pocock the next day (i.e. the 14th December 2005). In this letter it is clearly stated that
"You made it clear your own position: it was possible to resolve the matter, you wanted to see justice done, you supported Stewart's wish to legally register his property, you would try to see whether the legal case might be withdrawn, and you would intervene with your brother to see what could be done to ease the situation. We understand that you cannot guarantee success, but your understanding of Stewart's case and willingness to act on his behalf is most welcome"
It is important to point out categorically that prior to this meeting Reginald Mengi had no knowledge or interest and had never involved himself in the Silverdale saga. This is an important point to note.
True to his word Reginald Mengi met with his brother Benjamin Mengi as part of the mediation process. The results of the preliminary discussions with Benjamin Mengi and the initial offer proposed by him as a way of resolving the dispute once and for all are contained in a letter written by Reginald Mengi to His Excellency Andrew Pocock and Stewart Middleton on the 16th December 2005. No response was forthcoming to this letter or the initial offer that it contained from Stewart Middleton or any other party and that has remained the case to date.
Copies of the letter of the 13th December and 16th December 2005 by His Excellency Andrew Pocock and Reginald Mengi respectively are attached as well.
The smear campaign by Sarah Hermitage against Reginald Mengi
It is important to note that Sarah Hermitage – the wife of Mr. Middleton did not attend the meeting held at Reginald Mengi's residence on the said date above. However, this did not stop her from conducting a smear campaign with her local Member of Parliament in UK the Honorable Roger Bale as the focal point vilifying the public institutions in Tanzania as anti-investor, corrupt and were threatening "British investors" in Tanzania.
This campaign continued until late 2009 when Sarah Hermitage changed strategy and began targeting Reginald Mengi instead of Benjamin Mengi. Whenever the name "Mengi" came in business circles or with some investors who have heard about the Silverdale Farm case people automatically associated this with Reginald Mengi for very few of them knew about Benjamin Mengi who as it has been pointed above is a successful businessman in his own right.
Thus in early January 2010 Reginald Mengi received an email from the Nairobi Office of the World Bank with an attachment of a letter written by Sarah Hermitage addressed to the President of the World Bank. This letter contained an allegation that Reginald Mengi had failed to implement several promises that he had made to Stewart Middleton at their meeting on the 13th December 2005 namely to:
• Compensate Stewart Middleton for loss of his investment in the Silverdale Farm venture
• Pay all the legal costs that Stewart Middleton had incurred during his dispute with Benjamin Mengi 5 years earlier; and finally
• To stop a negative media campaign that was being conducted against them by IPP Media of which Reginald Mengi is the Executive Chairman.
None of these allegations are true and the only commitment Reginald Mengi ever made was to try to mediate between her husband and Benjamin Mengi. The letter written by His Excellency Andrew Pocock who unlike Sarah Hermitage was actually present at the meeting is incontrovertible proof of this. The purpose of these advances by Sarah Hermitage to these several international organization is very clear, to tarnish the image of Reginald Mengi purely because he is the brother of the man that they have business dispute with.
Reginald Mengi files a Civil Case no. 121 of 2010 against Yusuph Manji
Earlier this year Reginald Mengi obtained irrefutable evidence that the smear campaign being waged by Sarah Hermitage against him was actually being masterminded and financed by Yusuf Mehbub Manji, a prominent businessman in Tanzania. Mr. Manji is a business competitor to Mr. Reginald Mengi as well as a political adversary. Few years back the two had a very public conflict which escalated to the level of a parliamentary exchange in 2006 which ultimately ended up in a parliamentary inquiry. On April 27 2009 Mr. Mengi called a press conference where he audaciously mentioned a group of individuals whom he accused of being a corrupt syndicate – he termed them "sharks of corruption in Tanzania", among them was Yusuph Manji. None of mentioned resorted to a legal action against Mr. Mengi and the accusations against them still stand today.
With the support and help of Mr. Manji, Sarah Hermitage prolifically issued and continues to issue emails and letters to various international institutions such as the World Bank, International Finance Corporation, The Coca Cola Company, the Lutheran Church, The Commonwealth Press Union and the Commonwealth Business Council all with one clear intent to harm the person, image and character of Mr. Reginald Mengi who now has become a target of their libelous attacks.
Some of these letters are: the letter to International Finance Corporation dated January 7th, 2010 and the letter to Alexis Mr. Herman of Coca Cola Co., in Atlanta Georgia dated 16 January, 2010. In both letters Ms. Sarah Hermitage tried to draw Mr. Reginald Mengi who holds a franchise of Coca Cola in Tanzania into the legal dispute between the Middletons and Benjamin Mengi. This started to cause problem for many of Reginald Mengi's business partners and other institutions that he has had relations with. Unfortunately, some of these businesses, individuals, and partners began to associate the Mengi's name with the allegations of mischief against foreign investors in Tanzania.
The level of evidence of correspondences between the two supports Mr. Mengi's assertion that the smear campaign against him has to do with issues beyond the Silverdale case. is more than the Silverdale Case. This compelled Reginald Mengi to sue Yusuf Manji in the Civil Case No. 121 filed at Ilala District Court in Dar-es-Salaam Tanzania on the 29th October 2010. Other legal action might be taken when deemed necessary.
It is the hope of Reginald Mengi that after all the evidence is careful reviewed and analyzed one picture will clearly emerge; the picture that Reginald Mengi has never been and is not part of the Silverdale Farm agreement or current dispute. He has never been involved in the ownership nor operation of the farms and therefore he does not stand to benefit or lose with any legal outcome. The legal dispute does not involve him at all except the fact that the one of the involved part is Benjamin Mengi, his brother
More materials on the case between Benjamin Mengi and Steward Middleton can be found http://www.thesilverdalefarmcase.blogspot.com as well as http://www.thesilverdalecase.blogspot.com
For further information or media arrangement:
Ngalo & Company Advocates
6th Floor, IPSBuilding,
Samora AvenueAzikiwe Street
Phone (Office): +255 22 2124987
(Cell) + 255 764601018
Contact Person: Mike Ngalo